Tuesday, 8 January 2008

THE RETURN OF DR.MABUSE (1961)


The Dr.Mabuse series produced in Germany in the 1960s were among the most entertaining of the many krimi which were typified by the seemingly endless series of Edgar Wallace adaptions. The Mabuse films were, in my experience, faster paced and more inventive. The criminal mastermind, Dr.Mabuse, was created by writer Norbert Jaques and famously made his film debut in Fritz Lang's 1922 DR.MABUSE THE GAMBLER. Lang resurrected Mabuse in 1932 (now mad and running his criminal empire from an insane asylum) and put into his mouth the words of Adolph Hitler which, naturally made him unpopular with the nazis. Many years later when Lang returned to Germany he revived Mabuse in THE THOUSAND EYES OF DR.MABUSE. The success of the movie prompted first a remake of TESTAMENT followed by a series of further adventures, none of which involved Lang. THE RETURN OF DR.MABUSE is one of the best o the series with Gert (Goldfinger) Frobe playing Inspector Lohmann (a character who had first appeared pursuing Peter Lorre in Lang's 1931 M and gone on to combat Mabuse in Lang's 1932 film) who starts to suspect that Mabuse's organisation has formed links with the Mafia and then that Mabuse himself is still alive and directing operations from a prison where the inmates are being turned into mindless zombies. The film has myriad suspects as to who really is Mabuse (although fans won't have much difficulty in choosing the right culprit - especially when the cast includes Wolfgang Preiss). It all moves at a cracking pace with bizarre murders (a passing truck incinerates a woman with a flame thrower!) mad scientists and a full scale attack on an atomic power station by gun-toting zombie convicts. As well as Frobe and Preiss the cast includes Lex Barker as F.B.I agent Joe Como, Daliah Lavi and Mabuse regular Werner Peters. Direction by Harald Reinl is more than adequate. The same disc from Retromedia Entertainment also contains the very enjoyable THE INVISIBLE DR.MABUSE made by virtually the same team - including Barker as Joe Como, Preiss as the face of Mabuse and Werner Peters - with Reinl's wife Karin Dor stepping into the heroine roll in a plot that combines the Invisible Man with Phantom of the Opera. As if that were not enough there is also THE DEATH RAY MIRROR OF DR.MABUSE which is a different kettle of fish. By the time this entry into the series was made James Bond was big at the cinema so we get German actor Peter Van Eyck as a Bond-like British secret agent (yes, I know, it is odd casting!) trying to stop Mabuse getting his hands on a new death ray in Malta. British actors Robert Beatty and Leo Genn are Intelligence chiefs and ,Yvonne Furneaux is the eye candy. Wolfgang Preiss is listed on the cast but I honestly failed to spot him in the film. It lacks the pace or the inventiveness of the earlier Mabuse films and is a real disappointment. Years later French director Claude Chabrol revived Mabuse in a one off thriller. Rating for THE RETURN OF DR.MABUSE (Im Stahlnetz des Dr. Mabuse) ***

4 comments:

Terry Frost said...

How was the boxed set? I heard that the print quality was a little sub-par?

Glad you're back and blogging, by the way.

Terry

Cerpts said...

Hmmm, ever since the release of these DVDs I've debated whether or not to pick them up but never managed to do so. While I do have Lang's Testament of Dr. Mabuse, I admit to having seen very few of the krimi films (among them DEAD EYES OF LONDON with Klaus Kinski) and none of these 60's Mabuses. As usual, I've read about them -- just never SEEN them! HA! I tend to do that quite a lot. But they do sound interesting and I'm very glad to have your take on them. One of these days I'll have to see for myself.

Weaverman said...

Well, it doesn't really count as a box-set to my mind as all the films are on one disc! But I really had no problem with the quality - especially as they were films I never thought I'd see. DEATH RAY MIRROR was a bit tedious but the two starring Lex Barker were great fun.

You know, Rick, I've not seen too many Krimis myself and have generally been disappointed with them. I think that it was a pretty interesting period of film production (or should we say co-production as French/Italian or English co-producers always seem to be involved) in Germany. I liked many of the actors from this period - Preiss, Van Eyck, Kinski, Werner Peters, Frobe etc.

Thanks for welcoming me back guys - sometimes real life intrudes on our reel life but I'm getting organized now.

Cerpts said...

That's why I always prefer REEL life!!!